W.K. Kellogg Foundation Grant to Improve Infant Health Outcomes With Community Approach

Detroit-based Metro Solutions receives multi-year, $425,000 grant to fund community-based breastfeeding initiative


Metro Solutions, a Detroit-based non-profit fiscal intermediary, has partnered with three nationally recognized infant health and community engagement experts who will launch an innovative pilot project to improve community support for breastfeeding, and thereby improve infant and maternal health outcomes in cities across America.

The project, the First Food Friendly Community Initiative, is funded by a $425,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and is guided by the premise that the first food—breast milk—with its unparalleled immunological and preventative health properties, is the earliest and most optimal intervention point for improving the likelihood of healthier infants and children. The 2 ½ year project, which will include pilots in Detroit and Philadelphia, aims to create more supportive “first food friendly” community environments for mothers and infants by identifying on-the-ground partners and targeting local agencies, establishments, faith-based institutions and residents for multi-pronged coordinated strategies. These strategies stretch beyond traditional health interventions and include economic and workforce development components. By eradicating “deserts” of support and removing common barriers to increased breastfeeding with comprehensive community-led interventions, infants and the families that care for them can have more healthful and empowered lives.

Kimberly Seals Allers, a leading advocate and consultant on breastfeeding, Kiddada Green , founder of the Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association and Duane Kinnon, a management consultant with over three decades experience in non-profit and health and human services will spearhead the community-based work. Ruth Rashid Kaleniecki, a licensedsocial worker currently focused on community engagement around early childhood education, will serve as Metro Solutions’ grants director.

“We are delighted to work with such respected leaders in the field whose work dovetails perfectly with our commitment to advance community well-being and to add another WKKF grant to our growing portfolio as we provide fiduciary management and support for community service providers,” says Rose Khalifa, executive director of Metro Solutions, which creates strategic financial partnerships with health care systems, non-profit foundations, universities, social service agencies, and local municipalities.

“For years, we have been saying that hospitals are only step one and that women need more supportive environments where they work, play, eat and worship in order to have meaningful breastfeeding success. This grant from the Kellogg Foundation allows us to continue working on making that a reality for more mothers and babies and to develop a nationally scalable model,” says Seals Allers, who will serve as project director. “It is exciting to partner with Metro Solutions, who have a proven commitment to community health, on this project.”

About the FFCI Team: Kimberly Seals Allers is a nationally recognized media commentator, consultant and advocate for breastfeeding and infant health. As a consultant, Kimberly has led ground-breaking community-based projects in the southeast and Philadelphia that explore the impact of “first food deserts”—communities that severely lack or have inaccessible resources to support mothers who choose to breastfeed—and examining how to transform these areas into more breastfeeding supportive environments. A former IATP Food & Community Fellow, her advocacy work also centers on rethinking childhood nutrition and preventative health as beginning at birth with the optimal first food—breast milk.  Kiddada Green is the founding executive director of Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA), co-founder of Black Breastfeeding Week and sits on the advisory council of the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, Women’s eNews Black Maternal Health and Wayne Children’s Healthcare Access Program.  Mrs. Green works tirelessly to increase breastfeeding rates for African Americans, and contributed recommendations for The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. She is committed to supporting families, and training public health workers on cultural competence in breastfeeding support.  Duane Kinnon, president & CEO of the Kinnon Group, LLC, is a leader in community engagement and nonprofit management with more than 30 years of human service experience working with global organizations like the Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Club of America, the YMCA and YWCA, institutions of higher learning, state education departments, various school districts, Parks & Recreation Departments, Public Housing Authorities and faith-based organizations. Mr. Kinnon has a long-standing track record strengthening communities to better serve vulnerable youth and families with high quality, researched-based programming.


About Metro Solutions: A Wayne County, Michigan non-profit organization, Metro Solutions, was established in 2003 to provide organizational and operational support to tax-exempt hospitals, to form strategic partnerships with health care supporters and sponsors statewide, and to fund and promote programs that deliver quality health care to the uninsured and underinsured in the metro Detroit area. It has since expanded its capabilities beyond healthcare to support the efforts of non-profit foundations, universities, social service agencies, and local municipalities.

About WKKF: The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.